Limosa lapponica – RHOSTOG GYNFFONFRTH – Passage migrant and winter visitor
Mathew (1894) considered the Bar-tailed Godwit to be an autumn visitor, occurring only occasionally in the spring. Lockley et al. (1949) also classed it as an autumn migrant and stated that it was rare in the spring.
Autumn passage may well have remained unchanged though neither Mathew nor Lockley et al. put any scale on their comments. The passage seen is very variable, and sometimes only a trickle of birds is seen between 10 July and 29 October, with no more than 20 being seen at any one time. In other years considerably more pass, with groups of up to 60 being seen. The autumn of 1988 saw an exceptionally heavy passage with up to 25 recorded at 14 localities between 16 August and 8 October, as well as 43 on Skokholm and 41 in the Nevern Estuary on 6 September, 308 in the Cleddau Estuary on 11 September and a total of 382 passing Strumble Head on 10 dates, with a maximum of 119 on 2 September.
Between 20 and 66 have wintered on the Cleddau Estuary, mainly at Angle Bay and the Pembroke River, since about 1964, and up to three are sometimes seen at the Teifi and Nevern Estuaries and in Fishguard Harbour during the winter. Spring passage became a regular event during the 1970s and 1980s, with groups of up to 45 passing through the county between 30 March and 24 May, the most favoured localities being Freshwater West, Skokholm, Skomer, the Gann and Teifi Estuary.
They are regularly seen migrating by day, particularly past Strumble Head, but also pass at night, having been heard over Haverfordwest and seen in the lighthouse beams at Strumble Head.